Special to GC
Fullerton, Calif. - The No. 1-ranked University of Florida softball team defeated two Pac-12 opponents on Friday at the Judi Garman Classic to run its season-opening winning streak to 26 games. The Gators took Game 1 against No. 13/12 Arizona, 10-0 (6 innings) before defeating No. 2/3 Oregon, 5-1. Delanie Gourley earned the win in the opener after she allowed three hits and two walks with three strikeouts over six scoreless innings, while Aleshia Ocasio notched a victory in the second game as she gave up one earned run on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in seven frames. Florida's offense came alive early against the Wildcats as Kirsti Merritt drew a one-out walk in the top of the first to set up a two-run home run to left-center field by Lauren Haeger. The Gators loaded the bases in the fourth on two singles and a UA error before a walk to Aubree Munro forced in a run to extend UF's lead to three. A leadoff single from Bailey Castro and a fielder's choice by Taylore Fuller set up another two-run home run in the fifth, this one down the left-field line by Briana Little. Five straight batters reached for the Orange and Blue to start the sixth, with Haeger driving in Stewart on an RBI single before Fuller produced the final 10-0 margin with a grand slam to left. The home-run theme continued for Florida in Game 2 against Oregon, as Merritt and Castro both hit solo shots in the top of the first to put the Gators ahead 2-0. After two quiet innings, UF erupted for three runs in the fourth. Taylor Schwarz scored on a bases-loaded fielder's choice by Stewart, who then teamed with Medina on a double-steal to send the shortstop home. An RBI double by Merritt then plated Stewart to push the lead to 5-0. Oregon scored a run with one out in the bottom of the seventh on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to left. A groundout to Ocasio finished the 5-1 win and moved Florida to 26-0 on the season. STARS OF THE GAMES * Home run hitters: Florida hit five home runs on the day (Castro, Fuller, Haeger, Little, Merritt). Haeger's blast was her team-best eighth of the year, while Castro, Fuller and Merritt are in a three-way tie for second with six home runs apiece. * Delanie Gourley: The sophomore southpaw shut out Arizona, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out three Wildcat hitters to earn her seventh win of the season. * Aleshia Ocasio: The freshman improved to 9-0 on the year, allowing one earned run on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in a complete-game effort against Oregon. NOTABLES * With the wins against Arizona and Oregon, Florida extended its winning streak to 26 games. This establishes a record for the best season-opening run in program history (previous: 24, 2011). * Florida improved to 4-5 all-time against the Wildcats and 4-0 under Head Coach Tim Walton. * The Gators raised their all-time mark against the Ducks to 9-2, including an 8-2 record under Walton. UF has won eight consecutive games in the series dating back to Feb. 9, 2007. * Stewart's stolen base against Oregon was the 84th of her career, breaking the previous Florida school record (Michelle Moultrie, 83, 2009-12). * Merritt was hit by a pitch once against Arizona and twice vs. Oregon, bringing her season total to 20 HBP in 26 games. This total ties Florida's single-season record (Little, 2013). * Haeger's first-inning home run against the Wildcats was her eighth of the season and the 60th of the senior's career; the Arizona native now is five home runs behind Megan Bush for the all-time school record. * Game 1 marked Haeger's team-best tenth multi-RBI game of the year and her seventh multi-hit contest, which ranks second on the Gator roster (Stewart - 9). * Fuller's grand slam was the sixth of her career. * The Gators now have four grand slams this season out of 40 total home runs. * Little's home run was her fourth of the season and her first since her historic three-homer game against Mercer in the first game of a doubleheader on Feb. 22. * Stewart extended her hitting streak to 12 games (Feb. 20-present) with a sixth-inning single in each contest. The junior has a hit in all but one game this season. * The home runs for Castro and Merritt were the sixth of the season for both Gators, pulling into a tie with Fuller for second on the team. * Castro's blast was her second in five career games against Oregon; the senior has six lifetime hits vs. the Ducks. * Ocasio has earned the win in each of her three appearances against ranked teams (Michigan - Feb. 7, UCF - Feb. 25, Oregon - Friday). In these three outings, the right-hander has a combined 0.67 ERA (2 ER / 21.0 IP) with just two walks allowed and 26 strikeouts. UP NEXT Florida will conclude play at the Judi Garman Classic on Saturday with a game against Fresno State at 3 p.m. EST. WGGG (1230-AM)<http://www.floridasportstalk.fm/> will have the radio broadcast with Corey Brooks (play-by-play) and Megan Bush (analysis) on the call. In addition, live stats links for select games can be found on the schedule page<http://www.gatorzone.com/schedule.php?sport=softb> on GatorZone.com.